Everyday entropy: lessons of environment and information

fig2_trapped_0
The vortex of social failure

“To the same  effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes”

“the qualities of bodies, which are found to belong to all bodies within reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of all bodies whatsoever”

-Isaac Newton, second and third rules of reasoning in philosophy in Principia.

The key phrase here is “within reach of our experiments.”  With these words, Newton lay the foundation for experimental science. What he did not say was that all of the qualities of matter were universal, or that experiment could reach them, and he said nothing about reversibility.  It was Galileo who said “measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not,” and this seems to have been picked up later by Laplace in the notion that experiment could determine the causes of all qualities of matter, and that all causes were reversible.  But Newton was not so bold.  He seems to have had a hunch, or maybe even a hedge, that there were things beyond measurement.  And indeed, the statement “make measurable what is not” obviously mistakes the measurer for some kind of anti-entropic God.  A thing is either measurable or not, and no action on the part of the measurer could possibly change this quality in the thing.  It is only the informational mind that believes that all things are made up of measurements.

Newton’s shrewd philosophy makes it hard to understand his alchemical obsession, except that  before the strong force was discovered it wasn’t clear that everything couldn’t be broken down into fundamental parts and recombined into anything else. If light could be broken down and recombined to make a more desirable color, why not matter? Alchemists weren’t wrong, they just couldn’t know that it takes a supernova to manufacture gold. Also, it was hard to understand why certain reactions went one way and not the other.

The value of the scientific method of repetition and reversibility cannot be understated.  However, the great tragedy of the 20th century was that its limitations were obscured, ignored and understated to the point where science has nothing left to do but verify ad minutia ad infinitum.

There is a set of phenomena that are not reversible or repeatable.  The Big Bang is one. Climate change is another. Deforestation is a third, but the eruption of refugees is probably the subtlest and most topical. A group of people forced to flee their homeland can never return to equilibrium or equipoise.  But this quality of singularity is lost in the crush of computer models and statistical analysis.  Indeed, the meaning you take from a  message only happens once, and while the message can be repeated, it will only change you in a particular way once, and if it changes you again, if it still has meaning, the changes will be different every time you receive the message.  You, as a phenomenon, will never happen again.

Organized people have a psychological aversion to such phenomena, and science has become the domain of the organized.  Within science, unrepeatable phenomena are viewed in terms of their repeatable constituent parts or ignored.  The notion that science is limited to repeatable phenomena is not a scientific principle, but a habit of the type of people who succeed in the established fields of science.  Quantum entanglement punctured the notion of local realism and predictability, but bot the cultural  and psychological aversion to anything that is unique or unquantifiable.  This leaves approximately half of the universe untouched by scientific investigation.

The cultur of replication and predictability is why the search for extraterrestrial life has become a religious pursuit in the scientific community.

Cities should be built and demolished in the form of hurricanes.  In static terms, this shape optimises the packing of of substance in space.  In dynamic terms, the spiral arms of air flowing into and out of a hurricane maximise the storm’s intake and exhaust so that entropy can increase in the smallest space possible.  The flow of goods and people into and out of a city would be optimum in the same shape.  The grid is, in fact, the worst possible layout for a city, designed by bean-counters with no physical imagination.  There is no question about the energy saving potential of population density, and the shape that allows the greatest density with the maximum flow is a hurricane.
Refugees are fleeing places with very high entropy.  They need to be relocated to places with low entropy.
There is enough energy in the daily motion of wind, sun and life if we can share it, with or without fossil fuels.  Fossil fuels should be stockpiled for emergencies.  They are fabulous, but using them instead of wind, sun and biomechanics is stupid.
Before you do something stupid, always ask what will happen if we do nothing.  Because what will happen is never nothing.  Entropy never stops.  Energy never sits still.  And the information you have will never be the same again.
Refugee Crisis

The media has been actively covering UNHCR’s recently released Annual Global Trends Report which highlighted the insane fact that worldwide displacement is at the highest level ever recorded. António Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in the report that the world is entering an era “in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before.”

The numbers coming out of the report are staggering to say the least. Worldwide, one in every 122 people on the planet is now either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum. 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago.

migrants http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/data/estimates2/estima

http://www.environmentalmigration.iom.int/infographics

Water use

https://www.geolounge.com/water-earth/

https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/our_water/water_use_today.html

 

Note that the trapped population infographic looks like the ring vortex.  this is not coincidental.  Trapped people look like they are doing nothing or very lazy, but they are actually applying maximum effort every day to escape their environment.  All of their effort is absorbed into the vortex, so that no work is apparent from the outside.

 

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